ICYMI, celebrity makeup artist Albert Kurniawan became quite controversial in the Philippine pageant scene recently—not for his talent as a makeup artist which is stellar, but for his support of two different candidates.
Kurniawan has done makeup for both Maxine Medina from the Philippines, and now, Kezia Warouw of Indonesia.
Filipinos weren’t too happy when they found out that the man responsible for the winning looks of Filipina contenders was also helping the representative of a rival country. And on January 12, as the candidates were arriving in Manila to prepare for the competition, Albert released this statement.
"This is it. Since a lot of Miss Universe contestants will arrive today, I just want to wish all the girls the best of luck.
I also want to clear the issue that I received a lot of violent reactions from a number of Filipino pageant fans directed towards me and the rest of the Aces and Queens camp for choosing to train Miss Universe Indonesia."
Brief background: Albert is an Indonesian makeup artist who, after deciding to stay in the Philippines permanently has become one of the most in-demand makeup artists among celebrities and society women, including beauty queens.
"I am Indonesian, and I have been helping beauty queens of the Philippines beauty since the time of Ann Umali and Melody Gersbach. [I’ve since helped] Venus Raj, Shamcey Supsup, Janine Tugonon, Ara Arida, MJ Lastimosa (first year of training) , Pia Wurtzbach (first year of training), Gwen Ruais, Queenie Rehman, Megan Young, Hillarie Parungao, Kylie Verzosa (first year training), and many others. In all these years, this has never been an issue for Indonesian pageant fans."
[related: The Glam Squad Diaries: Albert Kurniawan on Experimenting with Makeup + Bold Looks You Must Try]
He went on to clarify that he indeed requested to meet Miss Indonesia for a brief period of time, and confirmed just how quickly things escalated.
"This is the ONLY time that I have trained a representative of my country and the ONLY time I asked a favor from the team to meet Miss Indonesia. And now, it’s become an [issue] to many Filipino pageant fans."
He then recapped the criticism over the events at Miss World 2016.
"I understand that a lot of Indonesian and Filipino pageant fans are fighting because of what happened in Miss World 2016. Some claimed that Indonesia played dirty in order to get a spot in the Top 3, which resulted in Miss Philippines losing a placement. Another issue is Indonesia winning over the Philippines in Miss Grand International."
And FYI-ed readers on what also happened the year before.
"Maybe we shouldn't forget that the Philippines won its first Miss World crown in Indonesia."
The next few lines make it clear that he’s had enough of the threats being thrown around—particularly at Miss Universe Indonesia.
"I never want to give attention to this fight because it is so childish and will not lead to anywhere. In any competition, there is always sourgraping. Kung baga, waley ako paki…wiz ko bet..,dedmah…not until it becomes personal.
I heard so many people and [saw] comments on my posts (which I deleted para walang further away) that they will boycott Miss Universe Indonesia. They will not post anything [to support] her. They will boo her at any event, the prelims and the final. Some even had the nerve to send a private message to Miss Indonesia to say she won’t be welcomed in the Philippines. Others reminded her to be careful when she is here in Manila—that they will watch her every move, and [have said] other messages that threaten her safety. Some said that they would throw acid on her when she is here. Yes, I know it seems hard to believe, and maybe [what they say is] not true. But, to me, whether these people would actually do [such things] is not the issue here."
And how disappointing the entire ordeal has been.
"Please do not get too personal sa away nyo mga pageant fans…Do not involve the girl. Yesterday she called me saying that she is so scared to come to the Philippines because of those threats. They’ve been too much na; she [already] had to confront an issue at home, being NON-MUSLIM to represent Indonesia.
[related: Miss Universe 2016 Watch: Where In The Philippines Have The Candidates Been?]
As for me, who has been staying in the Philippines for quite some time, I am totally surprised because I know Filipinos love to welcome people. Filipinos are very friendly and kind-hearted no matter what. Sometimes I even tell people I am from the Philippines instead of my birthplace Indonesia because I really love this country."
He ends his post encouraging bashers to spread love instead of hate.
"This is too much, guys. Sana we can support our contestants without hatred for others. I am Indonesian; that is why I want to help Miss Indonesia. But Maxine is my good friend and we have been friends for so long. That is why I am helping her too. Take note that I have been training Maxine for almost a year, and with Miss Indonesia I only spent four days to train her. And now, big issue agad? So disappointed. I expect more from Filipinos. I am sure if you guys were in my position, you would feel the same too. My only wish now is for Kezia to feel the warm welcome, support and love that I have come to know here in the Philippines."
In a report from ABS-CBN News, both Maxine and Kezia [who has since been safe throughout her stay in the Philippines] assured the public that they had no problem working with the same makeup artist. They further went on to say that they have no issues with each other candidates.
[related: Hot Stuff: See The Miss Universe 2016 Candidates' Beauty Looks, Up Close]
If neither the girls nor Albert have problems, why create one? Why escalate this to something potentially traumatizing to these girls—let alone foreign ones?
What ever happened to friendly competition?
As he said, such behavior reflects poorly on Filipino character. They also don’t seem to match with Miss U ideals. Yes, only one woman can be our next Miss Universe. But more than winning, isn’t the pageant supposed to celebrate diversity and global awareness? Wasn’t the pageant founded on inclusion? And isn’t the ultimate goal to somehow improve not just oneself but to radiate that whilst improving the world in her own way?
Plus, since when has it never been okay to cheer for multiple people?
Being Indonesian, it’s only natural for Albert to want to root for his countrywoman. He also has shown genuine support towards Maxine, who, to him, is more than just a contestant.
Like him, let us discourage the trash talking (towards the contenders and their teams) in succeeding pageants. Everyone deserves to feel confidently beautiful, not afraid for their lives.
ALSO READ: In Focus: How Miss Canada Siera Bearchell Rose Above Body Critics
Photographs from Instagram.com/abtkurniawan, Instagram.com/keziawarouw, Facebook.com/nikolai.crisostomo / Artwork by Jana Jimenez